tv [untitled] March 25, 2012 10:00pm-10:30pm EDT
>> yeah, i think so. i don't think i would that often. we're doing tests on that. >> thank you all for coming. each week, we take you to archives, museums and historic sites around the country. next, travel with american history tv to james madison's month peiler in orange county, virginia. it's operated by the month pelier foundation.
dedicated to conserving the legacy of the fourth president. often referred to as the father of the constitution. we're now standing at the madison family chemistry. this is where members of the madison family have been buried since james madison's grandfather first settled this land in the 1720s. in fact, it was madison's grandfather ambrose madison who was the first individual to be buried here. in the 1720s, he patented this
land. he sent a crew of slaves out to comply with the legal requirements which were that he seat and plant the property, seat means build a resident. plant means start farming. he followed in 1732 with his family. within six months he was dead. interestingly enough, it has been only in the past ten years that we have discovered ancient court records that indicate that three slaves were tried and convicted for murdering ambrose madison. we know that one of them was executed, according to the court records and two were punished and then returned to their owners. now it's having how we look at this evidence and how we interpret it because all it tells us is that three slaves were tried and convicted. we don't really know who did it. we know the court system found them guilty. it does tell us though that even
an enslaved african-american on a plantation was regarded as an individual who was legally responsible for their actions and could be held accountable. now, again, i don't think we need to look at this record and realize there are many different interpretations and means that could be read into it. a fascinating aspect about the early history of montpelier is that after ambrose madison died his wife decided to stay here. she could easily have pulled up her family and headed back to the tide water of virginia, but instead she decided to make montpelier her home so she is raising her children by herself. she's running the plantation, managing the slave force, and she really was the mistress of montpelier until her oldest son, james madison's father, reached 21 and inherited montpelier and then himself became the master
of montpelier, so really it's an incredible testament to the women of the madison family that this remained the madison home and eventually became the lifelong home of james madison. but the reason ambrose was buried at this location is that the home he had had built was just 100 yards away. that home is long gone. in fact, the archaeological evidence tells us that the family burned the home to remove it around 1770. the madison family chemistry remained here. there are over 100 members of the madison family buried here, but the -- but you would never know that by looking at it because in fact there are only about 40 tombstones in this cemetery. we know from these records, in fact, that madison's parents are buried in unmarked graves. we know that madison's parent are buried in unmarked graves. the marker on james madison's grave was not put in place until
some 20 years after he passed away. let's step inside and take a closer look at the marker over his grave site. as we walk across the land here, this open area, our archaeological excavations, that revealed that this entire part of the chemistry is in fact filled with burial sites. we've done just enough archaeology to determine where those grave shafts were doug. we have not excavated any of the remains. we don't feel that that's an appropriate aspect of our archaeological program, but we have enough to understand that this is the full extents of a family burial ground. madison's grave is in one side of it, and and he was placed here and located so that his wife dolly, who outlived him, could be buried next to him. however, dolly had moved to washington and died in
washington, and she was first interred at congressional chemistry. it was until the 1850s that her body was returned to montpelier. at about the same time this memorial was erected, and in 1858, and can you see it just simply marks madison giving his last name, his birth date and the date of his death. however, in building this memorial to mark his burial site, they really -- the builders also used the grave site set aside for dolly so that when her remains were brought here about the same time, she was buried behind madison instead of beside him. she also has a marker on her grave site. we think today that a grave has
to be marked. i think for the family the marking of the grave was the chemistry itself. this was the distance of the chemistry, the walls that enclose it designated this as the family's burial ground so that an additional marking inside it wasn't necessary. as i said, both madison's parents and his grandparents are buried in this chemistry. we don't know which grave is theirs because their graves are not marked. in fact, the first marker in this grave site, in the chemistry, is dated 1811. that's 80 years after the chemistry was established in 1732. john willis, you know, a member of the family, buried here in 1811, so this is the earliest marker in this chemistry. that is the most recent stone, and that actually was placed here to replace an earlier stone, but you can see the willis name. it included madison's sisters and their children. there are only two non-madison family members buried here.
one of them is the son of winfield scott, the great general from the war of 1812 and the mexican-american war and even the civil war. he was visiting madison in the 1820s with his son. his son became ill and died, and the family extended to him the privilege of having him buried here in this chemistry. his son became ill and died, and the family extended to him the privilege of having him buried here in this chemistry. the other individual buried here actually was an owner of montpelier in the later 19th century. there's a madison family association, and every three years they have their reunion here at montpelier. we're delighted to have them
come, but it's no longer an active chemistry. there are no burials in this chemistry by the family or by anyone else. our archaeological evidence has indicated that this chemistry is really full. there's no room left. the chemistry had been neglected over the years and starting about ten years ago in fact many of the monuments were no longer vertical. part of the enclosing brick wall had collapsed, and vandals had pushed over the monument of marking dolly madison's burial site, so we joined with the chapter of the daughters of the american revolution, and with the fund-raising abilities of those women and their patriotic fervor, we raised the money to fully restore the chemistry. we've rebuilt the brick wall. we stabilized the monuments,
cleaned them and restored them so that they would continue to mark the family presence here at montpelier for the foreseeable future, so we're very grateful to the virginia chapter of the d.a.r. for taking on that project and bringing it to a successful conclusion. it's a great partner. he did have a will. in fact, it's in the records of ourng orange county courthouse. they have loaned it to us for exhibit, but he did not address at all his desires for how he is to be buried or how his grave was to be marked, so, in fact, he really left it to family tradition which at that point was largely unmarked graves. this pathway leads to the slave chemistry here at montpelier yes, and it really communicates
a very important aspect of the montpelier plantation which is that there were many, many african-americans living here. many more than members of the madison family, and that this was their home as well. they had relations with each other, with slaves in neighboring plantations so this was a thriving, self-sufficient plantation community. they, too, needed a burial spot. it is markedly different from the madison family burial. it's not enclosed by a brick wall. it's here in an area where trees have subsequently grown up so it has received less attention by subsequent owners. let's go back and take a look. there are no markers of the grave sites here, and what gave -- the evidence that presented it self is that as the coffins were raised and collapsed, the ground above them settled so that a careful
mapping of this area, a three-dimensional mapping, and you can actually see that in this computer schematic here, reveals that the ground here is actually pock marked with the remains of each of those graves. there are about 40 of them here. we think there are many other graves here as well. they likely were filled in when the slave community was still actively taking care of the chemistry prior to emancipation at the end of the civil war. some of the grave sites are actually marked with large stones. big quarts stones which is not too rare in this area, so they clearly were gathered and brought to this location and placed on the graves as a marker. but there are no names. there's nothing to indicate the
specific individuals in each of the burial sites. we have done enough archaeological work to confirm, again, the grave shafts were dug, again that we have not excavated any of the remains, and that's not our intention. descendants of montpelier slaves have told us is that the periwinkle you see here was planted intentionally to help mark this area, because it blooms in the springtime, and so it linked into ideas of rebirth and resurrection that are part of the christian religion that had become part of their lives. this is not the only slave chemistry here at montpelier. there are archaeological surveys and we've found locations of other cemeteries and because of the proximity to the mansion it seemed most likely it served the
nucleus of the slave population, and those who worked in the house hold, the tradesmen that ran the blacksmith shop and cared for the garden and the stables, so this clearly emerged as the most important. we've also hosted reunions of descendants of montpelier slaves, so we have learned some of the oral traditions about how burials were carried out during slavery, and some of the beliefs attached to that, and that's given us some more insight into the meaning and significance of this chemistry. the last reunion we had, which was in 2008, we haer people attend, and really the -- the -- the evidence is all oral tradition. it's an understanding of where they came from, who their ancestors were, and we've worked very hard with many of these members to record those oral
histories, and we have started tracing out what became of some of the montpelier slaves after the end of slavery. the bev insight we have into madison's treatment of slaves comes from a man named paul jennings. he was born a slave here at montpelier around 1800. he became madison's personal valet, and he later purchased his own freedom from dolly, and around the time, a little bit after the civil war, his recollections were written down and published with the title "a colored man's reminisces of james madison." and he talks of madison being very kind in his treatment of the slaves. so he probably is the best indication that we have of that. during madison's times, there were as many as 100 slaves who lived and worked at montpelier, and they really carried out all the jobs. but they also tended to be specialized.
this sign tells you about the field slaves. they are the ones who worked the fields, tilled the soil and really made montpelier a productive plantation. we've done just enough archaeology to know that the barn and field slave quarters on some of the ridges here. it really was the farming center for james madison's montpelier. there were other groups of slaves, too. the slaves who supported the household, who cleaned the house, who did the laundry, prepared the food. they were typically termed the house servants or house slaves and they lived close to where they worked, close to the mansion. there were other slaves as well because a plantation like this had tradesmen, had craftsmen, blacksmiths, coopers, they would have lived in another area near their workshops, so over the next few years we will be excavated sites that are the residences of all of these slaves and will start to do a cross-analysis to understand the different life standards, the different material life
standards of each of these groups of slaves, the extent to which they may have traded with each other, because all the evidence tells us that this was really a self-supporting functioning community. it existed here for generations, just not the madison family, and they had links amongst each other. they had links with slaves at other plantations. these links with the white community as well, and we do have records of james and dolly buying such things as fresh eggs and vegetables from their own slaves. so all of this archaeological work will help us to understand better and better the complex relationship of the communities that made montpelier their home
for a century and a half during the madison's ownership, the madison family ownership of montpelier. we're standing in front of the temple which james madison built here in the opening years of his term as our nation's fourth president, and the temple tells us so much about his interests, his personality, even his education. madison had studied deeply the writings of the ancients, and he knew of the classical world, greek and rome, as the birthplace of our modern concepts of democracy and self-government. so when he built the temple, he was consciously evoking those ancient models on which the american nation was founded. it really doesn't have a practical purpose. it was an adornment of his grounds.
but madison was also a very practical man. his contemporaries noted he was a politician and a very effective politician as well as a thinker. so that he placed the temple on top of a house, usually one of the least attractive structures around the home, of a plantation in virginia, but so he has hidden it and disguised that utilitarian ice house with this very attractive temple, but underneath its floor is a pit 20 feet deep, and in the wintertime his slaves would cut ice from the pond down the hill, cart it up the slope and pack it into the ice house with straw and sawdust so it would stay frozen well into the summer, providing cooling ice for drinks, ice for dolly madison's favorite dessert, ice cream, and for the enjoyment of his guests and his family throughout the hot summer
months. it has changed really very little. later the owners did replace the wood floors with a concrete slab, but our investigations showed that the brick ice house below is intact and unchanged. these are the original columns. the roof has been replaced, of course, but you're looking at it as it was envisioned by james madison. there are several drawings from madison's lifetime that show this temple and madison's concept for us -- for it. now, he placed it in a very interesting location, because if you look from the temple, you'll notice that he's placed it in a very strategic location so it is in sight from the front porch of his home, and he wanted visitors to see this as an embellishment of the grounds, but he didn't want it directly in view so he's creating this largest expansive
and balanced setting that frames his homes here in the beautiful virginia piedmont countryside. you know, one of his nieces said that madison talked about using it as a study. that seems a bit impractical for me, to my mind, but i can envision madison out here in good weather, with a chair, studying one of the books of the ancients working on some of his papers. it would have been a way to escape some of the hot heat inside the house in the summertime. if you look here at the foundation, you can see in recent repairs we have articulated a brick arch, and that, we have discovered, was the original entrance into the ice house portion, so the ground
here has actually been filled in for safety reasons and to stabilize the brick structure, but that actually would have been a low hatch in which the slaves would have entered with the ice from the pond below. a long-term plan, we will be further investigating the ice house and the temple and fully restoring it. our goal is to restore the original wood floor and the original access so you can really understand its functional role here at the montpelier plantation. we do gain some insight into the importance of the temple to madison. when madison was remodeling the house at about the same time, we have a letter from his builder, james densmore, and densmore proposes putting window in one wall of madison's new library so that madison will be able to see the temple. so we do know, and madison agreed with that, the window was put in. it's part of the house today, so that does tell us that madison viewed this as a very special element of his lands -- of the landscape around his home.
you know, the ancient models of temples are where the greek and roman gods were housed and worshipped, but that's not the reference that madison was making. he was really recalling antiquity as a source of philosophy from aristotle to cisero and to how the real purpose of life, the purpose of government and how the people can start governing themselves through democracy and republican forms of government. for him it was the ideas of antiquity, not the religion, that was the motivating force. because he really built a lot of his thinking about the american constitution many, going all the way back to antiquity, to find the best ideas that history offered. we've not found madison making reference to any specific structures. his name was william thornton, and we would certainly expect, although we have no letters, that he discussed it with his best friend, thomas jefferson, who is such an architectural expert. i've been here in montpelier for nearly 12 years now, and i came in 1999 with the -- with the excitement and the vision of ri the home of james and dolly madison and bringing back their presence.
james madison has really been lost to america. there is no monument to him. the mall in our nation's capital. he doesn't appear on our circulating currency, and his home has been lost to americans for over a century, so restoring the home was really an effort to make montpelier, james madison's lifelong home, the nation's monument to his achievements as the father of our constitution and as the fourth president of the united states. you can watch american art facts every sunday on c-span 3's
american history tv. for schedule information and to view programs, visit c-span.org/history. in march of 1979, c-span began televising the u.s. house of representatives to households nationwide, and today our content of politics and public affairs, nonfiction books and american history is available on tv, radio and online. >> my personal appreciation that i owe a great debt to others reinforces my view that a certain humility should characterize the judicial role. judges and justices are servants of the law, not the other way around. they are like umpires. umpires don't make the rules. they apply them. the role of an umpire and a judge is critical. they make sure everybody plays by the rules, but it is a
limited role. nobody ever went to a baseball game to see the umpires. a generation before president john f. kennedy acting on behalf of a grateful nation designated him an honorary american citizen, winston churchill paid his own heartfelt tribute to his transatlantic origins. appearing before a joint session of congress on the day after christmas 1941, he puckerishly observed i can't help but reflecting had my father been american and my mother british instead of the other way around, i might have got here on my own. today, outside the british embassy on massachusetts avenue, churchill literally bestrides two nations, with one bronze into the planted on british soil and the other on american. this pleased the old man himself
to no end of the statue announced on his 89th birthday, the honorary american said i feel it will rest happily and securely on both feet. controversy arose over the sculpture william mcbay's depiction of the wartime prime minister, not because of his characteristically defiant stance, with right hand raised and a trademark "v" for victory salute. no, it was another churchill icon, the cigar in his left hand, that offended some members of the english-speaking union. the organization responsible for the sculpture. in the end, authenticity and the cigar won out. unveiled a year after churchill's death in 1965, the figure seems even larger than its 9 foot dimensions would indicate. almost half a century on, winston churchill still manages to dominate his surroundings. >> by the way, i cannot help but reflect that if my father had been american and my mother british instead of the other way
around, i might have gotten here on my own. there's a new website for american history tv where you can find our schedules and preview our upcoming programs, watch featured video from our regular weekly series, as well as access ahtv's history tweets, history in the news and social media from facebook, youtube, twitter and foursquare. follow american history tv all weekend every weekend on c-span 3 and online at c-span.org/history. two grand daughters of dwight d. eisenhower voiced their opposition this week to the proposed design of a memorial honoring the 34th president. they appeared before a congressional subcommittee hearing held to consider the views of both supporters and